Ferrari is reimagining the climate control system for EVs, helping save energy and increase range.
A new patent discovered by CarBuzz has been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, showing multiple ways in which an electric vehicle from Ferrari will be able to manage the cabin temperature with minimal energy. This is an important bit of research, as EVs do not have engines from which to draw significant heat. Thus, they rely on electric heat pumps, which sap battery power and therefore reduce range and efficiency. A reduction of up to 41% in the available driving range of an EV has been recorded when the cabin heater is cranked to full blast.
To get around this as it looks toward its first all-electric car, Ferrari has suggested two possible methods. The first draws energy from the charging source, be that a home charger or a stall at a charging station, while the second would see the Ferrari EV store heat or coldness in a novel way.
The first method is very simple. Essentially, in the same way that an electric car's battery can be preconditioned prior to departure, so too the cabin of the car can be heated or cooled in advance, but instead of using the car's battery, this would use power drawn directly from the mains while the car is connected.
Cabin air temperature control will still use current technology, however, with an electronically controlled heat pump to regulate the temperature of the air entering the cabin once on the move. The main difference is that the vehicle will be heated or cooled in advance, reducing battery load on the move. This means the car is warmed or cooled to your liking, but you still have a full battery when you set off.
The second solution is a little more complex but builds on the same basic premise of the first.
This new system's most important innovation is the way it addresses overall climate control efficiency by adding thermal sinks to the equation. A thermal sink is simply a method of shedding or storing heat (or coldness) in a medium with strong thermal conductivity.
In the case of this patent, the chassis frame will be made of various hollow aluminum sections, which will be shaped to guide air through the frame members. Heated air will be conducted through these air passages, transferring and thus storing heat in the aluminum members.
The energy to heat this air will come from a secondary heat source, with specific mention being made of an integrated inductive heating device combined with a separate air circulation fan. Naturally, this will use some electricity, but the thermal efficiency gains will more than make up for that, as we're about to explain.
The chassis frame will be insulated from the environment to the outside but will be open to conduct its stored heat or coldness to the car's interior. By preheating the chassis frame before departure, the need to heat or cool the cabin's air from its battery will be reduced because there will already be a radiating heat element at a convenient temperature in contact with the car's interior air.
The same applies when outside temperatures are high, in which case the control system will use the normal cabin air cooling system to circulate cold air through the frame, cooling it down in advance to absorb any heat that may be introduced to the cabin from the environment while driving. The frame's air circulation will be separate from the cabin's air circulation system, however, to eliminate possible unfiltered outside air from entering the cabin.
While these techniques won't keep the cabin temperature under control indefinitely while driving, they will certainly help to reduce the dependence on battery power to heat or cool a vehicle's cabin over at least shorter distances.
This energy-saving technology and others like it are clearly very important to EVs, be they Ferrari F8 Tributo replacements or humble pickups. GM has developed a way to add range from body heat, while Ford has found that heating interior surfaces can be more efficient than using a ventilation system, and Lexus has proven the benefits of infrared technology in improving range.
All of these little improvements add up over time, and the EVs of the future will be far more efficient than those of today.
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